tv MSNBC News Live MSNBC March 20, 2011 11:00am-12:00pm EDT
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east, 8:00 out west. the u.s. military is calling the overnight military bombardment a success. admiral mullen says there is effectively a no-fly zone in place there's new criticism of the strikes by the head of the arab league, a group that called on the u.n. to take action initially. >> and moammar gadhafi issue -- gym meceda has been covering this live. i understand you having in initials on the aftermath? >> i do. first i'd like to mention -- we've been talking about how quiet it's been in these key
areas lie misrata and other places. we understand there's fighting in the center of misrata. we were -- there are reports -- sources are saying it's pro-gadhafi forces that have entered the center again. it's a town they encircled about two weeks ago and have been founding mostly with artillery shells, but that had eased up. now it's happening again, obviously a violation of the u.n. security council resolution. in terms of benghazi, also important information coming out. that's that it looks like the pro-gadhafi forces have pulled back. it's impossible to saying from our perch here obviously how far that is, but we understand that there are scenes of devastation left by the french attacks yesterday, which did trigger this pullback, scene of
burnt-out tanks, back to the town about 80 miles south we've been talking about so much. and also a big erie to even talk about. there are rebels coming out, ventures forward out of benghazi going back -- bringing the families along and celebrating along this route, taking pictures of the devastation. it's a very strange scene. i'll throw it back to youisms i can about imagine. let me ask you about the push-back on the strikes, especially from the arab league? >> there has been pushback already, because of the number the civilian casualties which can't be independently verified,
now in the 30s or 40s. >> okay. looks like our signal went down there with jim there in tripoli. thank you very much for that report, jim. let's get more from the u.s.'s top military officer, joint chiefs of staff chair mike mullen speaking this morning about the situation on "meet the press." >> what we did certainly, we took out his radars, his ability for the most part to attack us from the ground. that's how you start to set up a no-fly zone. gin it's have i focused on enhurricanes he can't continue to execute his own people. >> jim miklaszewski is joining me with more. what else did he say? >> strictly from a mitt tear standpoint, so far so good,
after they launched more than 110 of those tomahawk cruise missiles yesterday that targeted much of gadhafi's anti-aircraft defenses. overnight 40 bombs were dropped on some of his military airstrips. in addition to this -- it might be explain some of the devastation we heard jim talk about -- u.s. f-14s and if you have-15s launched an air-to-ground attack in that very same region, according to u.s. officials, because they posed a potential threat to civilians in that benghazi region. so it does appear that this no-fly zone has become also in some instances a no-drive zone when it comes to libya's
military which would take it a step beyond -- apparently it will appear beyond the u.n. resolution, but u.s. officials saying, no, in the u.n. resolution, it provides for the no-fly zone and protection of civilians. so it looks like the u.s. military is going to liberally interpret that portion, and anytime they see the military moving, they're a potential target on the ground there. alex? >> do you get any sense the duration of time the u.s. is willing to invest here in libya? isms well, everybody thought this would be a quick in and out. very simple, the u.s. military was going to conduct the brunt of the attacks, and then hand it over to the coalition. we're already hearing that perhaps the u.s. military is not so eager to turn this over to the coalition. america might actually be in charge of the coalition, because u.s. military traditionally has
been somewhat reluctant to turn over its military forces to another commander from another country. >> what you asked about is the arab league to the reports as a result of these air strikes. the persian gulfw quietly pushes them in that direction, but when the shooting started and the u.s. got bogged down, they backed off, and there was hardly any support from the arab community after that. if this gets dicey, one of those unintended consequences that secretary gates talked about we could see some of that arab support eroding. >> okay, mick, many thanks from washington.
>> you bet. this is all a balancing act for president obama. the president is ticking to his schedule on the trip to latin america, but libya is still a top priority. >> make no mistake. today we are part of a brought coalition, answering the calls of a threatened people and acting in the interests of the united states and the world. >> co-host of "the daily rundown" savannah guthrie is live with us from rio. are we getting any indication of how long to expect in "operation odyssey dawn" to take? >> reporter: you know, we aren't. i would echo what mick said, the plan, the nothing this would be heavy involvement from the u.s. on the front end.
and that is why we've seen, frankly this effort being under u.s. control. two bombers overnight, over 100 cruise missiles being launched so this begins very much like a u.s.-led operation, it is a u.s.-led operation, but the plan and ideal is for the nato allies to take control of the everyday enforcement of the no-fly zone. that is what is expected. as mick noted, things are unpredictable, so who knows how it would ultimately play out. the president did give briefings this morning at secure call with secretary gates and secretary gates. the president we're told will continue to get the briefings, but he's also going forward with the trips to brazil. and just visited a
rehabilitative slum, was treated to a musical performance. and the first lady and their daughters are also with him. >> with regard to the international support, how critical is that? >> it's something they refer to a lot, the president wants to get international consensus, and key to all of this we're told was the support of the arab league. once they got the buy-in from the arab league, where they came out and said we would like to see a no-fly zone in libya. that changed the dynamics. and i think mick alluded to this, the arab league's secretary-general just said today, according to afp, he was
critical of the strike. so on the one hand the arab league's support was so key, and at the same time just not even 24 hours into this, we're starting to see some criticism from the arab league. it will be interests to see how the white house reacts from that. we'll of course continue or coverage of "operation odyssey dawn" in just a few minutes. but in japan today, an amazing rescue more than a week -- police say a 16-year-old boy and his 80-year-old grandmother have been rescued, and the two were found alive in the miyagi prefecture. and new this hour, officials say 2 of the 6 reactor units are
safely under control after the storage pools have cooled down. this is the japanese coast guard riding that wave. it was about three miles or so off the country, just after the 9.0 quake. robert bazzell is following -- i know we have the survivors and some great pictures of them being airlifted to safety. can you tell me if that news is getting out widespread and what the reaction is to that? >> reporter: well, it's certainly getting widespread. it's on japanese television all the time and in the newspapers. how much that's going to make people feel better after many thousands have died and hundreds of thousands are homeless, i don't know, but one piece of uplifting news in a very dismal situation. >> how about in terms of dismal situations the damage to the
reactors and consequences of the leaked radiation. any updates on that? >> reporter: well, the situation of the reactors themselves is steadily not worse or better. there's been no bad news for some time. the temperatures and pressures seem to be coming down. there's still a lot of radiation at the site, which gets into the food supply. the japanese ministry in charges say they found some additional sample of leafy vegetables on farms, one of which made it into the marketplace, and that they've shut down all shipments of milk, so they're trying to get that situation under control. even though the reactor may not be in as much danger as it was a
few days ago. >> bob, thank you. as we continue our coverage of "operation odyssey dawn" we're going to gauge the support and criticism of president obama's handling of this crisis, and we'll explore the possible outcomes of a military intervention. is the unstated goal to oust moammar gadhafi potential? you're watching msnbc sunday. everyone has someone to go heart healthy for. who's your someone? campbell's healthy request can help. low cholesterol, zero grams trans fat,
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are meant to prevent gadhafi from unleashing more violence on his own people. involvement is expected to last just a few days before it shifts to the european and other partners. adam smith is a member of the house armed services committee. good morning. thank you for joining us. >> good morning. thanks for having me on. >> are you comfortable with the information you have received? do you feel well briefed? well informed? >> not as well informed as i think congress should have been. obviously this all happened fairly fast given what was going on in libya, but i think congress could have been better informed. listening to your report this morning it's very clear how many unanswered questions there are about exactly what we're committing to doing here. part of it has been heard this morning from the arab league that they're concerned about the
casualties involved here. this is what you have to do in order to impose a no-fly zone. even last week i was very wore about the dialogue about how we needed to do this, impose a no-fly zone and very little specific conversation about what you have to do to accomplish that. >> how do you categorizes this mission, sir? is it a humanitarian mission? >> i think it's hard to say. i would categorizes it in this way. i think it's clear what we're trying to do. we're trying to prevent gadhafi from killing more of his own people, to try to stop that from happening. i think that's a very worthy goal and i think that's the reason is the international community created such pressure at the u.n., at nato and with us to try to take action to make that happen. the problem is it's not an easy thing to do. >> if that's -- just tosh now synopsize what you have said,
what is the difference between libya and what's happening in yemen and bahrain? >> i think that's an outstanding question. why are we intervening here? what's going on in libya points out a very big problem. there is an expectation in the world that if something is going wrong, that somehow the u.s. has the power to fix it, while at the same time there is also considerable anger and frustration when we step in and try to fix it because of the cost involved. i think we need a clearer understanding of what the policy is we're advancing in libya, and more importantly what the policy is going to be going forward when we use military force of there are humanitarian -- sorry. go ahead. >> to that end, has the it's defined a goal that you are comfortable with? >> um, they've defined -- they have defined a goal. clearly it is to stop the civilian casualties than
occurring in libya. i am comfortable with that. what i am not comfortable with is the clear line between that and what actions we take to bring about that goal. that's what i was going to say -- there's a whole bunch of humanitarian crises in many different parts of 9 the world where this is happening, but i think what people tend to miss is the limitation on military force to step in and bring about peaceful conclusions. it's never as clean and easy when you're imagining it. you want to make it stop, and i understand that. it's just not an easy thing to do. >> do you think that military action should be taken where there is no apparent national security concern, or are we missing something here in libya? is there a national security concern? i don't think we can fairly
characterize this as something being done because this is primary to u.s. national security interests. but i do think there is a place for us to use whatever force or diplomatic power we feel to halt a crisis. i think that's a legitimate goal to look at a situation and say there's violence going on that's causing death, starvation, problems for people. if there's something we can do to fix that, yes, i think we should look at it. >> doze this as being a new obama doctrine, a tipping point for military action being put toward a growing humanitarian crisis? >> it has that potential. that's why one of the things i think the white house needs to do have i very quickly is lay out what that doctrine is, to answer those questions that you just asked. when in the obama administration's opinion will we intervene?
what are the criteria that we are putting forth in order to decide when 20 do and not to go? even when you lay out that criteria, there will be gray areas. how much international support do we have to have? how confident do we have to be in our ability to effect positive difference? but i think we need to at least lay out what those criteria are and what we're looking at when we decide whether to get involved. there's a lot of other places in the world. certainly we have ongoing problems in the sudan, enormous problems in the eastern congo. when do we decide to get involved? and what are those criteria? i i think that needs to be made much clearer, not just to the american people, but to the u.n. and the international community so they can start to have the right expectations about what the u.s. can and cannot do.
we don't want to be caught in that trap. >> representative adam smith, many thanks. >> thank you. appreciate the chance. it appears that two of the reactors at that nuclear plant are cooling down. is that a sign the crisis may be easing? that's ahead. and had your shoes shined. well, i made you a reservation at the sushi place around the corner. well, in that case, i better get back to these invoices... which i'll do right after making your favorite pancakes. you know what? i'm going to tidy up your side of the office. i can't hear you because i'm also making you a smoothie. [ male announcer ] marriott hotels & resorts knows it's better for xerox to automate their global invoice process so they can focus on serving their customers. with xerox, you're ready for real business.
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despite this, members of the arab league are condemning air strikes due to civilian casualties. last week the league offered its support for a no-fly zone. so why the change of position? and what exactly does it mean? christopher dickey joins me again. i know you were saying this response is indicative of how unreliable how the arabs have been for allies. has this kind of reversal happened in the past? or is that enough to give us an occasion of what's happening here? >> sure, i think it's a basic pattern where essentially once the fighting begins you tend to hear from the americans and their allies it's all about victory, but from the arab side it's almost always about victims. there's a huge divergence of views, as those two separate narratives develop.
i think in this case, the head of the arab league is getting a little ahead of the game. he is running for president of egypt. he's playing a political game as a presidential candidate right now more than as the leader of the arab league. i think that's indicated by the fact that qatar is moving its planes into place, there's still support from the uae, and the saudis even though they have a controversial role in bahrain and even yemen, still are in favor of getting rid of gadhafi. there's also an individual element there. gadhafi actually tried to murder king abdullah only a few years ago in revenge for an insult at an arab summit, so they think he's crazy, and they're right. >> do you expect them to take a greater role here, more of a lead role as a result of that tormented history? >> well, i think they already did. i think the reason that the arab league came out with the
position that it came out with a little over a week ago was because the saudis continue to support that position. >> what about gadhafi's stance? he's calling on the country to arm themselves, all but declaring war on the west. does he have the power to foster unrest throughout the entire region? or is this kind of a saber rattling? >> i think it's both. i was talking to french security people today, because obviously france would be one of the main targets in any attempt at retaliation. they think he doesn't have the resources anymore to try to do the things that he did, for instance, when he blew um pan am 103 over lockerbie, scotland. they believe security is much tighter than it was during those days. when he's arming his own people, which of his own people? i suspect the people that go to get guns will have a lot of
trouble doing it unless they happen to be members of his tribe, or tribes very closely associated with him, who are very much afraid if he comes down their livelihoods and maybe their lives will be in danger, but i don't think he's arming the libyan people. finally in terms of spreading unrest, if you follow the communications that have come out, people are laughing at gadhafi. he's claiming that the arab awakening, these uprising all over the world that are very much being pushed by people who are 24 years old, 20 years old, 18 years old, who never have any respect for gadhafi, are actually being inspired by his philosophy and his green book and leadership. the guy is nuts, let's be real. >> christopher, any time the u.s. enters a situation with an arab country like this, is it? essence something a no-win situation as it plays out? it's always going to get criticism no matter whether in
this case it was a humanitarian effort inspired event? >> well, you know, it's not quite as simple at that. if the united states had been able to pull together some kind of action like this, it really would have been much more clearly on the side of history, as president obama put it. now, actually the united states is in kind of an equivocal position. it's protecting civilians, but what happens if those civilians are armed, as they will be, and they move on tripoli to overthrow gadhafi? will they still get allied protection? it isn't clear. suppose people in tripoli needs protection from the civil that we were backing before? then there's the question of oil. a week ago the rebels controlled most of the oil fields. now gadhafi has moved into them and moving further into them. i think his next step could be
to start blowing up his own oil fields at some point, and that will be a big prone for the west. >> christopher, i want you to hang on. i'm going to bring in barry mccaffery. talk to me about the timing of this. a week, ten days ago there may have been a different reaction? >> i think that's quite true. the momentum of the rebels was enormo enorming on, then gadhafi organized himself to suppress a rebellion. that rebellion also was in tripoli, where unknown numbers of people have been disappeared and murdered, things are what they are. secretary clinton had to organize this tepid support. the arab league voted for a no-fly zone, which is a meaningless gesture.
now they're predictably concerned about strikes against ground targets which are going to make a difference. admiral mullen says we're going to go after the logistics pipeline which will make a huge impact when they start torching his fuel tankering, ammo trucks, but the arab league never signed up for that. >> general, it was not always send that arab nations would provide any sort of military support, what do you make of the news that qatar is sending planes to help with the no-fly zone? >> qatar, uae, tiny, stable countries, maybe they can afford to get away with it the. the jordanians are tremendous allies, they may in. the first gulf core we have a syrian co syrian corps and egyptian corps
and saudi divisions, arab allies in the invasion of iraq and recovery of kuwait. nothing like that has appeared in this at all. thank you, gentlemen. christopher dickey, thank you, as well as general barry mccaffery. thanks to you both. meanwhile, with the u.s. involved in conflict in a third muslim come, president obama stressing this will not be a u.s.-led operation, but is there still potential political fallout? a.b., good morning. >> good morning, alex. >> you heard the president saying this is humanitarian crisis. is there a sense this may be the start of a new doctrine for this administration? >> this is why they took song to make their decision. they don't want a new doctrine that tells all of the uprisings
that we can come to their rescues against thinks authoritarian governments. this is some of who, you know, are our allying and we continue to back even though people are getting killed in the streets of yemen and other places. this is why it's so hard, because we can't make a new precedent that promising we will come in and be the police force in a destabilized middle east. i think this was a decision that the president came to after much his tans, and, as you know, secretary gates was very much opposed to this and president obama was worried about inserting himself into another situation like this, because there is no end game. >> with the president's cautious tone a week ago, what you want, just mentioned about the secretary of defense not endorsing this by any means, what changed in the past few
days to push for military action? >> i dao think that, as we have auld learned very significantly and very interesting that secretary of state hillary clinton was the person who ended up breaking with secretary gates, with whom she usually agrees, and siding with those in the administration who were pushing for intervention in libya, making a reversal from their previous calculation that this was ten days ago, not in our strategic interests, to one that was because we saw the potential for the opposition to be completely rolled over by gadhafi in libya. for him to prevail, and then of course in future months and years to wreak havoc in the middle east, and i think this is beyond a humanitarian crisis. they like to couch it in those terms, but you and i know, and we've been hearing from the general and others this morning telling us they're tryings to destabilize his military
capability and hope eventually they can depose him. >> and a.b., how important is it that the focus remain this is a coalition-led effort and not a u.s.-led one? >> it's very important. as you know, president obama has made adamantly clear that this is -- he says the united states cannot impose change, and it will not impose change in these other countries. so they want, as you know, secretary clinton has been quite quiet with the rhetoric. they want to stay on the edge of this operation and paint it as a coalition force. as your other guests have mentioned, if we don't have the arab partners like the uae, jordan and qatar, coming in with air support, which provides president obama with some political report, if that diminishes, and we end up alone with the europeans, and it looks like a western attack, that's exactly the scenario that president obama was trying to
avoid. >> a.b., thanks as always. >> thank you. a new record about food contaminated by radiation. is it anything to worry about at this point? that's next. ...in a good way. in a jaw to the floor netflix-streaming, office deadline-obliterating, work-ninjaing, xbox live on my phone booootakasha kind of way. you won't believe what windows phone can do... and what your old phone can't. get the only phone with office, xbox live and thousands of apps. get a windows phone for $99.99 at at&t. crisp, clear, untouched. that's why there's brita, to make the water we drink, taste a little more,
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[ female announcer ] how does your next week look? why not get away and book a royal caribbean cruise at royalcaribbean.com today? powerful storms are taking aim at the west coast. california getting hit. let's get the details from alex wallace. >> yes, this last day of winter going out with a bit of a bang. we've got the risk for strong storms and very wet weather on the west coast. in the midwest, severe weather threat including a good chunk of iowa and spreading into chicagoland. main threat will be hail and maybe pot,damaging winds as well. the tornado risk is pretty low out there on the scale, but it's not zero, so we still have to watch out for that.
stormy weather here in the midwest to contend with. meanwhile, we head to the west coast. big system moving in, very, very wet conditions to deal with. san francisco down to l.a., as temperatures will be in the upper 50s. wet up towards portland. it looks like seattle may have a chance to sneak out some sunshine, but that rain will be coming down, areas of 1 to 2 inches of rain. look@at lake tahoe, up to around 2 feet of snow, even southern cal will get hit pretty art. this yellow areas could see 3 to 5 inches of rain, locally higher amounts. that could lead to some flooding or mudslides. a bit of a mess in the west, alex. tests have detected additional types of ra yags-taineded vehicles.
now just yesterday officials said milk and spinach near the fukushima complex had radiation levels exceeding the allowable limit. joining mess is science report brian bastag. good morning. >> good morning. your headline reads physics, geometry explain low radiation risks beyond the zone. explain that. why is that? >> right. obviously the most worrisome sources are the reactors at the site and the spent fuel pools. and the radiation levels from those two sources drop off very rapidly. when you're one kilometer or about -- a little more than half a mile away from the site, you have owned one one-millionth of a -- and that sort of radiation will not be a danger for people
outside the facility. now, of course there's been a lot of concern about how much radio activity is going up in the steam and smoke, and again, you know, it gets dispersed quite rapidly. i know there's a lot of concerns and fears, but so far the radiation readings have not been worrisome. >> now, you point out in detail three different deep of rad agyags, and the gamma radiation is the real worry. why is that? isms gamma radiation is basically just like x rays. and the nuclear cores, they're basically like x-ray machines that never turn off. they're constantly generating gamma-rays. they're very penetrating. they can penetrate through radiation suits, so you need to be shielded with lead or concrete. the workers trying to hook up cooling to the facility, they
can't work in lead suits. they have to manipulate connections and this kind of thing, so the gamma radiation is the most worrisome, but like i said, for people outside of the immediate vicinity, it's not a concern right now. >> but what about the food that's tainted? how concerned are you about that? >> the authorities in japan will keep a close eye on the food chain on vegetables and milk. you don't want to be eating these foods but again the levels that they are detecting are so small the devices that can detect radiation are sensitive. very, very minute amounts that won't impact human health. >> okay. brian, thank you. >> thank you. is there a perception that this is the third u.s. war on an be a are a state? the answer to that question right after this short break.
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u.s. military officials say coalition air strikes in libya were on target and successful. a spokesperson said missiles hit 20 out of 22 targets were air defense positions of moammar gadhafi including an air base just south of tripoli. meanwhile in rome pope benedict issued an appeal for peace in the region. he also called on military and political leaders to consider the safety and humanitarian needs of the libyan people. as colonel moammar gadhafi threatens war, the head of the arab league is criticizing international strikes there saying they cause civilian deaths. as the rest of the arab world looks on, how might this conflict reshape perspectives in the middle east? i'm joined by the washington bureau chief.
good morning. >> we heard the initial reaction of the arab league. what about the arab street? what's the early read there? >> arabs are anticipation this international help and hoping the regime of moammar gadhafi will be overthrown by the libyan people with the help of the international community and the neighboring arab states. if they are criticized civilian casualties, no one wants to see civilian casualties but he's made a career out of taking positions and blaming the ills of the arab world on the outside world particularly the americans and the israelis. what you have to do now is just watch what arabs are going to do. if they sent military assets to tunisia and enforcement of the
no-fly zone, they are on the record supporting the no-fly zone resolution. this is not 2003 when there was a considerable opposition to the invasion of iraq. arabs want to see gadhafi out. >> are you hearing anything that this is the third u.s. war on an arab state? >> it's not being framed like that by most people there. there's a minority people like the secretary-general of hezbollah and lebanon but he's in syria and doesn't speak for the arab street. early reaction is this is not a western war and not crusader war against a third muslim state because the arabs are on the side of the international community. >> i was going to ask you. do you think the u.s. will get credit from corners of the arab world for trying to intervene on the crisis? >> america's image was improved.
the president is on the right side. if this succeeds, president obama's stature will be improved because he'll be seen as standing on the side of history by supporting the libyan people in attempt to get rid of this dictator. outcome will tell us a lot. so far there is gratitude at the international community, french in particular are helping the libyan people. >> thank you. in just a moment we'll bring you a live report from libya for the latest on the military action. is there a chance moammar gadhafi could still cling to power after this is over?
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